Editorial: Different moods
The mood in the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Trinamul Congress in Bengal cannot be more contrasting at the moment. Despondency seems to have given way to dissension in the state unit of the BJP. There are murmurs that some influential heads might roll as a result of the drubbing that the BJP received in the assembly elections. The TMC, meanwhile, is in a different frame of mind: it is looking towards the future. Hearteningly, the party has not allowed its momentous victory to go to its head: complacency, indeed, can be fatal in politics. What the TMC is doing instead is preparing a second rung of leadership by inducting young personnel to responsible positions. Abhishek Banerjee has been anointed national general-secretary. The word is that a trusted aide has succeeded him in the youth wing. The organizational changes reflect Mr Banerjee’s growing clout within the TMC. His personal ties with the chief minister, however, offer a partial explanation for this elevation. It cannot be denied that Mr Banerjee’s attention to organizational deficiencies as well as his strategy — he roped in the services of the poll strategist, Prashant Kishor — played a part in the TMC’s spectacular return to power.
Mr Banerjee has declared, rather ambitiously, that he would like the TMC, a regional outfit, to spread its wings beyond Bengal. This is in keeping with the chief minister’s national ambitions that have now been resurrected. Two formidable challenges await the TMC in this respect. The party has virtually no organizational base outside the state. Building one before the next general elections — the polls are only three years away — seems improbable. Second, the principle of Bengali exceptionalism may have served Mr Banerjee’s party well in the state elections but this provincial capital could well turn out to be an impediment on the national stage. It would perhaps be politically prudent for the wise woman and men in the TMC to concentrate on building a formidable alliance with the Opposition to challenge the BJP in 2024. Bengal may be enamoured with the TMC; but that need not be the case with India.